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Fresh Raspberries in October

October 10th, 2018

This past weekend I harvested my first berries from the ‘Caroline’ canes I got from Nourse Farms last year. Caroline is described by Nourse as “this raspberry has a larger berry than Heritage and is more productive, with a rich, full, and intense raspberry flavor. It is a very vigorous variety, with more tolerance for root rot than Heritage. The farther south you grow it, the earlier it will ripen. Caroline is widely adapted, growing everywhere from the East Coast to the West Coast. This variety does not tolerate high heat and drought.”

The deer browsed them heavily this past winter and we had a hot, dry summer, so I was worried I wouldn’t get any berries at all. It looks as if we will get a decent little harvest this fall. I really wanted a raspberry that produced in the fall so it was ripe when the rest of the garden was waning. These are perfect and are coming on just as the summer garden bounty is drawing to a close. We’ve enjoyed every single berry and look forward to harvests for years to come.

Do you grow raspberries in your garden? Any favorite varieties to recommend?

Strawberry Bed Refresh

June 7th, 2018

Our strawberry patch is 6 years old now and in need of a refresh. With the redesign of the main garden, they need to be moved to make way for a walkway. Instead of digging up the plants we have to transplant, I decided to purchase new plants.

Since ‘Sparkle’ are our favorite berries, I ordered 50 crowns from Nourse Farms. They are my go-to source for asparagus, strawberries, blueberries, and other soft fruits.

Since the area of the garden where I want to put all the soft fruit is new and the soil hasn’t been amended, we decided to try some of the strawberries in raised beds. I got this cedar from the local mill, I was able to trade eggs for it. These new plants won’t produce berries this year, but we still have the old patch for that. We’re looking forward to lots of berries in years to come.

What’s your favorite soft fruit?

Forcing Rhubarb

April 24th, 2018

If you remember, I mentioned last week that I put a big black pot over my rhubarb to try to force it. I’ve never done this before, but have heard about it and read about it a few times. Yesterday evening, I lifted the pot and was amazed by what was beneath it.

This is the rhubarb that hasn’t been covered, it’s barely popping up out of the ground. In the next photo, you can see the forced rhubarb on the left and the unforced rhubarb on the right, or maybe you can’t see that rhubarb. This variety is ‘Glaskins Perpetual’ rhubarb, it can be harvested all summer long.


I’m quite amazed by the process and will definitely add it to my list of spring garden chores. Next spring, I may try covering the rhubarb in mid March. I’m really looking forward to early rhubarb this year, now I just have to look through my cookbooks and decide what to make with it.

What fun garden experiments are you doing this spring?

Making Cidah

October 13th, 2015

Cider (or cidah here in Maine) is one of Mr Chiot’s favorite fall treats. In Ohio, we had a local press we purchased gallons and gallons of cider from each year. We have yet to find cider as good as there’s here in Maine, so we usually get 8-10 gallons for our freezer when we’re back in Ohio for Thanksgiving. Lucky for our, our neighbor was given a cider press and we had an abundance of apples.
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We have lots of different varieties of apples here, probably around 15, of which 8 are ready to be used right now. We have no idea what varieties they are, some over 120 years old. We’re hoping to figure out what they are here one of these days. We picked two of each variety and I made juice, which we tasted to see what flavor profiles they each had. It was amazing to taste the difference between them all, some where sweet, some were intense, others were watery, and still other were astringent.
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After tasting the various juices, we started picking apples into big totes. Each tote holds around 2 bushels of apples, we picked three totes and a bushel. We picked for an hour or two and then loaded them up in the car to head down to our neighbor’s.
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He was ready to roll, the cider press was fixed up nicely and on the front porch. After a little tweaking we were in business putting the apples through the crusher and making our first batch.
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After a few hours we had all of our containers filled and tons of apple mash. Some went to his chickens, some went to our chickens, some went to a local farmer for their pigs.
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Overall it was a really fun day, ending up with a lot of cider wasn’t so bad. The cider ended up being delicious, next year we might tweak our recipe a bit, but it’s still better than any of the cidah I’ve purchased from any of the local orchards. We were pleasantly surprised by how quick and easy the process was.

Have you ever been a part of a cider pressing day? Do you like apple cider?

Friday Favorite: Preserving the Harvest

October 2nd, 2015

Our apple trees are loaded with fruit this year, there are so many we could never eat/use/preserve them all. Luckily, we have friends that can use some and they have been. We’ve been eating them out of hand and I’ve been making applesauce and dried apple slices. We’re hoping to make cider next weekend as well.
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One of the things I love about dried apples is that they store in the pantry, there’s not much work involved in prepping them. I simply core and slice each apple into 8 sections, yes I leave the peels on. They are layered onto racks in my oven and set to dry at 150 degrees until dry and leather, usually 6-8 hours depending on how full the oven is.
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I love using my oven as to dry things because it fits so much more than a dehydrator. A few years ago, I purchased extra racks so I could fill it completely. This batch produced 3 half gallon jars filled with dried apple slices. Mr Chiots will certainly appreciate them for delicious and healthy treats during the winter. I’m not a huge fan of dried apples, well of apples in general. I do love dried pears however, which reminds me I need to read up on pears this winter because I’ll be planting pear trees in the spring.

Do you dehydrate any fruit? What’s your favorite.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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